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Assess the Usefulness of Functionalist Approaches in Explaining Crime.

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Assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches in explaining crime. (21 marks)
In this essay one will assess the view of functionalists and how they approach their view of the causes of crime. Functionalisms over all view is to try understand how society shapes us by using a positivist view. Crime is defined as an action which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law. One will assess each functionalist and their theories looking at how they coincide with one another, then challenge these theories to other sociologists.
One functionalist sociologist is Talcott Parsons, he sees that society is based on a ‘value consensus’, and that without such a set of core values, social life would be impossible to maintain. Therefore society is a system and has to meet and fulfil certain needs, compared similarly to a biological organism. Parsons argued that certain things can be destabilising to society, for example when people do not conform to what is expected. By relating to a biological organism Parsons uses the idea of the ‘sick role’ where those that are ill don’t respect the medical profession by accepting that they are ill. He says that sickness is seen as deviant and has the potential for destabilising society. In comparison in society if someone has a ‘deviant illness’ they do not conform to what is seen as the norms in society, they are then seen as deviant and are likely to be rejected in society and turn to crime.
Another sociologist is Durkheim, he saw the subject matter of society as social facts, he believed that forces outside of individuals shape us and our behaviour. Durkheim believed you can detect social facts through statistics, his most famous study ‘Le Suicide’ aptly illustrates this. He found that by comparing the suicide statistics across 11 countries he could detect patterns and…...

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